"I remember some things very clearly, but large swathes are missing. If I look back, it feels like nothing is there, like something should be. It's like walking down a familiar staircase in the dark, where you know each step, which ones creak, where to swing silently round the smooth metal bannister, only to find one missing, your feet straying into empty space where a step should be. I can see that staircase now, can smell it, damp sandstone and great wooden slabs of stairs, worn down, spiralling down, the bannister metal but now smooth from all the hands. I know halfway up was a window without glass in it, a tiny crippled rowan tree growing in a crack in the sill where enough damp blew in. I know the doors off the stairs looked old outside, great wooden things, but really steel once they were open, with the smell of cloves and something sharp under it, weirdly discordant when mingling with the smell of the stairs.
I said I remembered this clearly. I remember the sound of reed slippers on the steps, and upper levels with rooms, rooms that had windows. I remember a regular, hollow sound like tubes of wood knocking, accompanied by the flow of water. I know there were stepping stones and a bridge and a platform, and long hours of practice.
I don't know what I would have practiced.
I said I remembered.
But I've never been there."